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Steck before Everest expedition: “Rather late than early”

Ueli Steck

He looks forward, not back. “I will never forget what happened on Everest in 2013,” the Swiss top climber Ueli Steck tells me. “But I believe I will have absolutely no problem with it. It’s over. I’m very motivated and I’ll go with a very good feeling.” In spring 2013, a Sherpa mob had attacked Steck, the Italian Simone Moro and the Briton Jonathan Griffith and had threatened them with death. This spring, Ueli will return to the highest mountain on earth. His goal: the traverse of Mount Everest and Lhotse. The 40-year-old will climb with Tenji Sherpa, with whom he had already scaled Everest without bottled oxygen in 2012. The 24-year-old belongs to “a new generation of Sherpas, who really enjoy climbing and are not only interested in doing business,” says Ueli. “I’m really looking forward to being en route with him.”

As reported, Steck had completed an intensive training camp with the German David Goettler and the Italian Hervé Barmasse in the Khumbu area in February. Subsequently, Ueli returned to Switzerland for a few weeks. He will set off to Kathmandu on 8 April.

Ueli, during the training Camp in Nepal in February you ran and climbed a total of about 250 kilometers with 15,000 meters in elevation. How much has been added since then?

Date

21. March 2017 | 15:18

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Dominik Mueller: “There will be more climbers on Everest”

North side of Everest in the last daylight

It could be a record season on Mount Everest. After the successful 2016 season, experts are expecting a run on the highest mountain on earth – especially since many climbers want to use their extended permits from 2014 (valid until 2019) and from 2015 (which will run out this year). In 2014, the season in Nepal had been finished prematurely after an avalanche accident in the Khumbu Icefall with 16 deaths. In 2015, there had been no ascents on both sides of the mountain due to the devastating earthquake in Nepal.

Dominik Mueller, head of the German expedition operator Amical alpin, will set off to Everest with a “small but strong team” on 8 April. Three clients, four Climbing Sherpas and he himself will try to reach the 8,850-meter-high summit via the normal route on the Tibetan north side. “I will use bottled oxygen because I believe that I can only support other people as best as possible when using a breathing mask,” says the 46-year-old. “Anyone who climbs Everest without supplemental oxygen is so preoccupied with himself that he probably has no resources left to look after others.” I talked to him about the upcoming season.

Dominik, with what expectations do you set off to the Himalayas?

Date

18. March 2017 | 15:44

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Chasing the Everest age record

Min Bahadur Sherchan

Why does a 85-year-old need to climb Mount Everest? For world peace. For environmental protection. For the self-confidence of old people. As an inspiration for the young. All these alleged reasons had to serve when, earlier this week, Min Bahadur Sherchan officially announced in Kathmandu that he would try to reach the 8850-meter-summit this spring. The real and only issue is to regain the Everest age record from Yuichiro Miura. In 2013, the Japanese, then aged 80, had replaced Sherchan as “Everest Methuselah”. For five years, the Nepalese had previously led the record list after standing on the highest mountain on earth at the age of 76 years and 340 days.

Date

9. March 2017 | 14:10

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Txikon finishes Everest winter expedition

Alex Txikon

Alex Txikon throws in the towel. His second summit attempt failed too – and so did the entire winter expedition. The 35-year-old Basque and his Sherpa team decided in Camp 2 at 6,400 meters not to ascent further up. Instead, they packed up and returned to Everest Base Camp today. “It really would have been suicide to go on,” Txikon told his team by satellite phone. “As the head of the expedition, I should not endanger the lives of my companions. And not my own.” Nevertheless, the decision to abandon the summit attempt was not easy, Alex admitted.

Date

8. March 2017 | 12:21

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Txikon’s last Everest summit attempt is on

Alex Txikon on Everest

It is a race against time. Another storm front is approaching Mount Everest. The meteorologists expect the small weather window with relatively favorable conditions in the summit region to remain open only until Wednesday and then close for a longer period of time. Therefore Alex Txikon, who wants to climb Everest in winter without bottled oxygen, has to push now. In two weeks, the meteorological winter will end. On Monday, the 35-year-old Basque and his five-man strong Sherpa team climbed up to Camp 2 at 6,400 meters. Today Txikon and the Sherpas Nuri, Gesman, Temba, Sanu and Pasang Nurbu want to reach the South Col at 7,950 meters. All Sherpas use supplemental oxygen. Three weeks ago, Txikon’s first summit attempt had failed on the South Col. “We hope to reach the summit on Wednesday ,” Alex said.

Date

7. March 2017 | 11:26

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Andy Holzer: “Our chance on Everest is alive”

Andy Holzer on the Rongbuk Glacier near Everest (in 2015)

Andy Holzer has climbed already six of the “Seven Summits”, the highest mountains of all continents. Only the very highest is still missing in the collection of the blind mountaineer from Austria. This spring, the 50-year-old from the town of Lienz in East Tyrol wants to tackle Mount Everest for the third time. During his first go in 2014, the season had been finished prematurely after an avalanche in the Khumbu Icefall had killed 16 Nepalese climbers. In spring 2015, the devastating earthquake in Nepal, with nearly 9,000 deaths, had resulted in no Everest ascents from the south and the north. Like two years ago, Holzer plans to climb Everest via the Tibetan north side. He will be accompanied by his (seeing) East Tyrolean friends Wolfgang Klocker and Klemens Bichler.

Andy, again you are going to Mount Everest – after two attempts in 2014 and 2015, when, for different reasons, you actually were not been given the opportunity to tackle the highest of all mountains. Third time is a charm?

Date

3. March 2017 | 9:09

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Himalayan chronicle 2.0

Mount Everest, Lhotse, Makalu (from l. to r.)

It is the old road, but due to the increased traffic the (digital) emergency lane is used too. From now on,  expedition teams heading for Nepal can register with the Himalayan Database, the high mountaineering chronicle founded by the legendary Elizabeth Hawley,  also online before setting off, for example via Facebook. “We will continue to meet as many teams in Kathmandu as we can. However, it has become almost impossible in the last few years to interview everyone personally,” Billi Bierling explains the new procedure.

Date

2. March 2017 | 9:09

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Route via the Khumbu Icefall is prepared

Hard work in the Khumbu Icefall

Once more it is served on Mount Everest. For three days, the Basque Alex Txikon, six Sherpas and two “Icefall Doctors” worked to restore the route via the Khumbu Icefall up to Camp 1 at more than 6,000 meters. 60 percent of the route had to be renewed, because the hard weather conditions of the past two weeks had left their mark in the ice labyrinth, the team of the 35-year-old Spaniard said. “It has been hard days refitting the route,” Alex noted on Facebook. After today’s rest day, Txikon and Co. want to ascend tomorrow to Camp 2 at 6,400 meters.

Time to grind the teeth

Alex Txikon

“I know that every time I go up, my strength is decreasing and therefore the chances of summit too,” Alex wrote in his blog. “But I’m a bit stubborn and I like to climb and fight it. It is time to grind my teeth.”

As reported, Txikon had had to interrupt his winter attempt involuntarily because the Nepalese expedition operator Seven Summit Treks had ordered the entire team back to Kathmandu after the failed first summit attempt. On Saturday, Alex had returned to the Everest Base Camp by helicopter.

Date

1. March 2017 | 12:23

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Txikon back on Mount Everest

Back to Everest by helicopter

“Back to the adventure!”, Alex Txikon wrote on Twitter. After eight days in the Nepali capital Kathmandu, the 35-year-old Basque has flown back to Mount Everest by helicopter. “We are already at the Base Camp at 5,250 meters, with very good sensations,” said Alex. “Despite having lost weight and having worked hardly, I am physically still very strong.” According to Alex’ words, it’s still sunny and windy at the top of the mountain, as it had been since the beginning of the expedition in early January. Already on Sunday, Txikon wants to climb up with his Sherpa team to check their previous route through the Khumbu Icefall up to Camp 1 on 6,050 meters and if necessary to repair it or to relocate the way through the ice labyrinth.

Date

25. February 2017 | 16:27

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Special expedition training

Barmasse, Steck, Tenji Sherpa and Goettler (from l. to r.)

What a high-caliber training group! The Swiss Ueli Steck, the Nepalese Tenji Sherpa, the German David Goettler and the Italian Hervé Barmasse have been preparing themselves for their expeditions in spring in the village of Chukhung in the Everest region for ten days. Steck and Tenji Sherpa plan to traverse Mount Everest and Lhotse. No one has yet managed to do this without bottled oxygen. Goettler and Barmasse want to open a new route via the Shishapangma South Face in Tibet. In the course of the training, mountain running was at the focus. “I ran three times from Chukhung (4,730 meters) to Island Peak (6,180 meters),” writes Ueli. He had climbed and run a total of about 12,000 vertical meters over a distance of around 150 kilometers. “My body and my soul feel great,” says Steck. “I really enjoy being here in Nepal with such good friends. Just climb and run and nothing else.”

Date

21. February 2017 | 14:29

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Txikon abandons first summit attempt on Everest

Alex Txikon

Alex Txikon

The dream of an Everest summit success in the first run has gone. Alex Txikon has abandoned his summit attempt and returned to the base camp. “I assure you that I have not given up,” the 35-year-old Basque wrote on Twitter. On Monday, Alex had climbed along with Norbu Sherpa and Chhepal Sherpa at temperatures of about minus 40 degrees Celsius to the South Col on 7,950 meters. But there such a strong wind was blowing that it was impossible to pitch a tent. “We have decided it was not the time to challenge nature at these heights and conditions, since we are nothing in dealing with it, and we could have suffered frostbite or even worse,” Txikon wrote later from Camp 3, adding that at times, it had become a tougher battle than the summit attack of last winter on Nanga Parbat.

After two nights at above 7,000 meters Txikon turned around. Winter is far from over. Alex Txikon will get even more chances. So time to recover and to try it once again.

Date

14. February 2017 | 18:52

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Only half an hour at Everest South Col

The Lhotse Flank, seen from Camp 2

The Lhotse Flank, seen from Camp 2

Mount Everest shows its teeth. Alex Txikon, Nurbu Sherpa and Chhepal Sherpa stayed only for a short time on the South Col at 7,950 meters. “After reaching Camp 4, the wind hasn’t given a truce and we have just gone down to Camp 3, until the storm subsides,” Alex wrote on Twitter. His team later added that the three climbers had been at the South Col for only half an hour. The wind had blown with about 70 km/h. It was impossible to pitch the tent. Alex, Nurbu and Chhepal wanted to spend another night in Camp 3 at 7,400 meters.

It’s questionable whether the trio will climb up again on Tuesday. The weather forecast predicts squalls also for tomorrow afternoon. The wind is to calm down not before Wednesday morning. So it remains exciting.

Date

13. February 2017 | 17:35

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Everest summit attempt next week?

Alex Txikon during his previous climb to the South Col

Alex Txikon during his previous climb to the South Col

“The die is cast,” says Alex Txikon. “There will be only a single summit attack and we will try to climb as we have done so far.” Today the 35-year-old Basque climbed along with the Sherpas Nurbu and Chhepal from Everest Base Camp at 5,250 meters to Camp 2 at 6,400 meters. The other three Sherpas of Alex’ team, Nuri, Pemba and Phurba, want to follow on Saturday. For five days, Txikon and Co. had sat out the bad weather – with squalls of up to 190 km/h in the summit area – in Base Camp. At first, the climbers want to check whether the equipment which they had deposited in Camp 3 at 7,300 meters and in Camp 4 on the South Col at 7,950 meters has been damaged or even blown away and therefore has to be replaced.

Date

10. February 2017 | 18:35

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Everest winter pioneer Wielicki: “Acclimatization is the key”

Krzysztof Wielicki

Krzysztof Wielicki

Krzysztof Wielicki is skeptical. “I think they can have a problem because they only slept in Camp 3 and not at 8,000 meters,” answers the Pole when I meet him at the trade fair ISPO in Munich and enquire him about the chances of the Basque climber Alex Txikon on Mount Everest. Txikon, who wants to scale the highest mountain of the world this winter without bottled oxygen, is currently waiting in Everest Base Camp to set off for his first summit attempt. “In my opinion, you should have slept at the South Col, if you want to push to the summit,” says Wielicki. “I wish him good luck, I hope that nothing happens. It’s most important that they’ll come back safely. It doesn’t matter if they climb to the summit or not.”

Date

9. February 2017 | 1:01

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Determined to make an Everest summit attempt

Alex Txikon

Alex Txikon

Alex Txikon seems to be euphoric. “I do not feel tired,” writes the 35-year-old Basque, after having descended from Everest South Col at 7,950 meters in one go to Base Camp at about 5,300 meters. “My body signals to me that we will go to the summit the next time. Soon you will have news of the attack.” Before, Alex – along with the Sherpas Norbu, Nuri, Chhepal, Phurba and Pemba – had ascended to Camp 4 for the first time during his winter expedition.

Date

6. February 2017 | 10:05

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